Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #24

GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction

Our ship perched like a raptor on the runway, its hull muted gray in the sunlight. A shiver skated across my skin. Within an hour, my brother and I would sleep inside, cruising through space to join our parents on a planet called Stellar 3. Morphed into a space-icles.

My wrist com beeped and I jumped. 11:40. Twenty minutes until they called our names.

“This is crazy,” Auntie said. She’d drawn fake lips on her mask, and it kind-of gave me the creeps. But my own mask, sans red paint, hid my grimace.

“Stay here,” she said. “I’ll find a way to take care of you and Joe.”

“I can take care of myself,” Joe said, puffing his skinny chest.

Auntie gave him a long look.

“I can take care of myself. I’m almost nine. A man.”

Maybe he’d grow tall in our new world, like a transplanted tree. I tousled his hair, making it stick up all over his head.


Giggling, I twisted away from his hand. He'd be a thorn tree.

“What’s this?” Auntie plucked a mouse from inside his shirt. “I told you I’d care for your pets.”

“Can’t I bring a little one?” Joe pleaded. In an instant, the man fled, replaced by the lost boy who’d crawled into my bed every night since our parents had left.

“Joe, you can’t take an animal on a spaceship.” I said. “What would it eat?”

“It would eat you,” Joe said. “It would gnaw on you, the whole time we’re in space.”


  1. This piece is well witten, the tension ringing true. The dialogue is snappy, and feels like it gives genuine personality to the speakers. The only thing I would change is one of the opening lines, which reads a bit cliched. Cut the "cruising through space... Stellar 3" part of that sentence, and simply join it with "morphed into space-icles". Other than that, it is perfect.

  2. I like this a lot! Joe is such a little man. His comment on the end there really signifies why he'd be a thorn tree too. Nice use of metaphors.

  3. I like this a lot! Its very well written. "Raptor on the runway" and "a shiver skated across my skin" were two things I noticed and like right off the bat. Well done!

    The only sentence that confused me was "In an instant, the man fled, replaced by a boy who'd crawled into my bed..." for some reason that was a little jarring. After I reread it, I understood what you meant, but the first time I suddenly thought there was a man feeling across the scene! I don't know if there is a way to reword... but maybe you wont have to. I could be the only one who didn't get it right away ( :

    Good luck!

  4. This is much smoother than the last version I read (can't remember where I saw it now) - well done.

    The word "perched" in the first sentence felt wrong to me. Made me think of a bird high in a tree, not something on the ground.

    I agree with J D Waye, and would cut the words "cruising through space to join our parents on a planet called Stellar 3".

    I really liked space-icles and it shows rather than tells. The rest of the opening flowed really well for me.

  5. The brother-sister dynamic is great in this scene. It’s nice to see Lia not only teasing him, but also comforting him at night snuggling together. We can tell there is a real love and connection between them. But nine isn’t usually YA, maybe middle grade?

  6. Thank you, Secret Agent! Joe, Lia's brother, is nine. Lia is seventeen. Now I'm running back to see why I gave that impression!

  7. The impression comes because this piece is more about Joe than Lia, so it's easy to make that assumption, but it's also evident it's Lia's story. You could give her a bigger part here, have her say or do more instead of focusing on Joe.

  8. Thank you, Barbara. This makes perfect sense.